Sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh reverberating through N.H.

  • President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, takes notes as the Senate Judiciary Committee members make opening statements during his confirmation hearing, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2018. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) J. Scott Applewhite

For the Monitor
Published: 9/17/2018 4:10:53 PM

Democratic U.S. Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan – the only two Granite Staters who get to weigh in on U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation – are calling for the Senate to delay any vote on President Donald Trump’s nominee to the high court while sexual assault allegations against him are investigated.

“I think the vote should be postponed. I think the FBI should investigate these allegations,” Hassan said Monday in Concord.

The controversy has also worked its way into New Hampshire’s race for governor, with Gov. Chris Sununu saying he still backs Kavanaugh but also calling for a Senate investigation and Democratic nominee Molly Kelly urging Sununu to drop all support for the embattled Kavanaugh.

Both Shaheen and Hassan were against Kavanaugh’s confirmation before the new allegations were made public.

“I’m very concerned that the Republicans in Washington have been rushing this through. Now we have a new allegation. An allegation that rings true with many women,” Hassan told the Monitor.

“Unfortunately, what also rings true is the rush to attack this woman and marginalize her and I think it’s very important that all of my colleagues, Republicans and Democrats, take time to understand who this nominee is before they make a judgment about him,” she added.

Shaheen took to Twitter on Sunday.

“The Senate Judiciary Committee should delay the vote on the Kavanaugh nomination until the sexual assault allegations made against him can be fully examined,” she wrote

The committee had planned to vote as early as this week on Kavanaugh’s nomination. But that seemed unrealistic after allegations that Kavanaugh decades earlier had sexually assaulted a woman when they were both in high school.

Christine Blasey Ford, a research psychologist and professor in California, detailed the alleged assault in an interview with the Washington Post that was published Sunday. Ford dated the incident to 1982, when she was 15 and Kavanaugh was 17. She said that the alleged assault “derailed me substantially for four or five years.”

Ford has said she’s willing to testify in front of the Senate about the incident.

Kavanaugh has vehemently denied the accusation and said he’s willing to speak to the Judiciary Committee about the alleged incident.

“This is a completely false allegation. I have never done anything like what the accuser describes – to her or to anyone,” he said in a statement.

The president on Monday praised Kavanaugh as “one of the finest people I have ever known.”

Trump seemed open to a delay in his nominee’s Senate vote. “If it takes a little delay, it will take a little delay,” he said. “It shouldn’t, certainly, be very much.”

Monday evening, the Judiciary Committee said it would hold a public hearing next Monday, with both Ford and Kavanaugh invited to testify.

The controversy also bled into New Hampshire’s gubernatorial race between Republican incumbent Chris Sununu and former state senator Molly Kelly, his Democratic challenger.

Kelly, joined by Democratic Governors Association chairman and Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee, on Monday called on Sununu to rescind his endorsement of Kavanaugh’s nomination.

Sununu joined some 30 other Republican governors this summer in backing the high court nomination of the federal appeals court judge.

“Gov. Sununu really ought to do the responsible thing and rescind his endorsement,” Inslee said, “and we’ve called on him to do that.”

Inslee was in New Hampshire for a two-day trip to campaign with Kelly, who last Tuesday crushed rival candidate Steve Marchand in the state’s Democratic gubernatorial primary.

Kelly charged that Sununu was playing party politics in supporting Kavanaugh.

“Before there was even a vetting of Kavanaugh’s appointment, Chris Sununu signed a letter with 30 other Republicans supporting Kavanaugh’s appointment and my question would be, what was the rush?” Kelly said in an interview with the Monitor and WKXL radio in Concord.

In July, Sununu called his signing of the letter in support of Kavanaugh as a “symbolic” move.

On Monday, Sununu said that “any allegation of this nature should be taken seriously and it is my hope that the Senate will investigate this matter appropriately.”

He told reporters he’s still back Kavanaugh for now.

“Of course we support him today but again, this is serious stuff and they have to do their homework at the Senate side. They’re the investigative body and again, I have full confidence they’ll take their time. They’ll do what has to be done to figure out what the truth of the matter is,” the governor said.

Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy’s late June retirement announcement gave Trump a prime opportunity to replace the crucial swing vote on the high court with a reliably conservative justice. Supporters of women’s reproductive rights fear the court may overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 high court decision that constitutionally protected a woman’s right to have an abortion.

If the ruling were overturned, regulation of abortions would fall to the states.

“Sununu has put party politics before the best interests of the people of New Hampshire, especially the women of this state,” Kelly said.

Kelly’s been highlighting the issue ever since Kennedy’s unexpected news. The next morning – at an event in Manchester – Kelly warned that “Roe v. Wade could be threatened.”

She vowed that if elected she’d “work with governors across the country to make sure that women’s rights are protected.”

Sununu has repeatedly pointed out this summer that he is pro-choice and he supports Roe v. Wade.

But he told the Monitor in late July that judges shouldn’t be evaluated on just one issue.

“As a governor, I don’t judge any single judge on a single-issue litmus test,” he said. “It’s about the Constitution, it’s about whether a judge will uphold the Constitution on a variety of different issues.”

And in a statement he praised Kavanaugh.

“When you look at the qualifications of Judge Kavanaugh, he’s one of the most eminently qualified judges that has come before the nomination process in Washington in decades,” he said.


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